On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted with fury. Triggered by the largest landslide ever recorded, a devastating lateral blast blew off the entire northern side of the volcano. Searing hot gasses, traveling at 650 miles per hour, scorched trees nearly twenty miles away. The mountain instantly lost 1300' in elevation. A slurry of mud, ash and melting ice inundated the landscape, which was then buried in 540 million tons of ash, and fifty-seven people lost their lives.
In 1987, just seven years after the historic eruption and the first year climbers were allowed back on the mountain, Jeffrey Ryan ascended Mount St. Helens. In 2017, he went back to climb it again and to explore the areas affected by the eruption. "Blast" is the first-hand account of what he observed during the hard-charging mountaineering days of his 30s and, most poignantly, what he saw through the eyes of a well-seasoned hiker with thousands of miles under his feet.
Many thought that the scars of the eruption might never heal, and some are still vivid to be sure. But the mountain and surrounding ridges and valleys have rebounded at an inspiring rate. Ryan takes us along with him deep into the blast zone, onto the mountain's summit and into the backcountry, where the recovery of the area is most vivid and affirming.
In addition to Ryan's narrative, "Blast" includes helpful advice about exploring Mount St. Helens National Monument, one of the Northwest's most interesting natural areas.